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Poll Finds Minority Of Armenians Support Rapprochement With Turkey

Turkish soldiers stand guard on a road at Dogu Kapi border gate with Armenia (file photo)

Turkish soldiers stand guard on a road at Dogu Kapi border gate with Armenia (file photo)

YEREVAN -- Around one in three Armenians supports rapprochement with Turkey and the possible opening of the border between the two estranged countries, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports on the basis of a new opinion poll.

The poll, conducted by the Armenian Marketing Association (AMA), is reportedly the most comprehensive survey to date of Armenian public opinion on the dramatic thaw in Turkish-Armenian relations. Its findings were made public today.

The nongovernmental group interviewed some 2,500 randomly chosen residents across the country in late January and February.

According to the AMA, nearly 31 percent of respondents supported, to varying degrees, the increased diplomatic, civil society, and other contacts between Armenia and Turkey.

Nearly an identical percentage of those polled completely or largely opposed such contacts, with the remaining 40 percent either undecided or expressing no definite opinion.

Accordingly, only 36 percent of respondents said the normalization protocols signed by Ankara and Yerevan in October are good for Armenia. Most others were either undecided or said the protocols favor only the Turkish side.

The AMA poll suggests that public opinion is almost evenly split on the opening of the Turkish-Armenian border, which is envisaged by the protocols. It shows that only about one-third of Armenians want to have an open border with Turkey, while those who firmly or mostly oppose it make up just over 30 percent of those surveyed.

Western governments and lending institutions say opening the border would have a swift and highly positive impact on the Armenian economy. The Armenian government takes a similar view. The AMA said that view is shared by 41 percent of those polled, with another 36 percent neutral on the topic or uncertain whether crossborder commerce with Turkey would bring economic benefits.

AMA Chairman Aram Navasardian told RFE/RL that pollsters did not seek to identify the reasons for the popular attitudes toward Yerevan's relations with Ankara, and the controversial protocols in particular. He said that should be the subject of a separate study.